How to Write Anything: a Complete Guide by Laura Brown is not really about how to accomplish every kind of writing there is. It’s a guide to what I call technical writing. Ms. Brown covers personal writing, like holiday newsletters, wedding announcements, and complaints, school writing which includes everything from note-taking to lab reports and essays, and business writing. She also discusses writing online.
What does this great book have to do with creative writing? Ms. Brown states in her introduction that all this technical writing can be accomplished by dividing the process into six parts: purpose, reader, brainstorm, organize, draft, and revise. I think those six sections work for creative writing, too.
- Purpose — Why are you writing a particular piece? Is it to entertain yourself? Share a message with others?
- Reader — What reader is your writing aimed at? Yourself? Friends? If you want to be published, you must know the audience you are writing for. Publishers expect you to know that information and tailor your work to your readers.
- Brainstorm — Everybody knows what this means. I will add I sometimes think of great ideas and then believe I will remember them. When it comes time to write them down, I forget what they were. So write down your brainstorming ideas.
- Organize — This may take many forms when you are writing creatively. Some people work best with a detailed outline and others may need to jot down just the significant plot points and write to connect those dots.
- Draft — Pull your brainstorming and organization together in a first draft.
- Revise — Always review and rewrite. Even if it’s just a cute poem for a friend to celebrate her birthday, review and rewrite. Very, very few writers, and I’m definitely not one of them, write something great the first time.
This process will serve any writer well for any kind of writing. If you need examples of technical writing, check out How to Write Anything. I found much of the advice about writing online especially helpful.
Ms. Brown writes in Chapter 2 that a person doesn’t have to use the process in the order listed above but should consider all the parts sometime during writing, if he has the time. I think creative writers should always consider all six parts for every piece of writing.
Does this process sound like it would work for you? Maybe you already have a productive writing process. Let me know what it is. I am always ready to learn!